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*WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NON-FICTION*
‘A Great American Novel in the guise of a Great Nonfiction Epic, The Unwinding asks…do we truly like the world we have made for ourselves?’ The Times
America is in crisis.
In the space of a generation the country has become divided between winners and losers, with its political system on the verge of breakdown and its people adrift amongst failing institutions.
In The Unwinding, George Packer tells the human story of America’s vertiginous collapse. Dean Price is a sustainability evangelist in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker trying to survive the collapse of the Rust Belt; Jeff Connaughton, a political careerist in Washington, and Peter Thiel, a controversial Silicon Valley billionaire. Journeying across three decades, Packer weaves the stories of these four Americans together to paint a rich, complex and compelling portrait of contemporary America as it stands at this, its most pivotal moment.
‘Hums - with sorrow, with outrage and with compassion... Close to a non-fiction masterpiece’ The New York Times
Sometime in the late 1970s, the foundations of the American Century began to unravel. In this trenchant account, New Yorker writer Packer (The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq) charts the erosion of the social compact that kept the country stable and middle class. Readers experience three decades of change via the personal histories of an Ohio factory worker, a Washington political operative, a North Carolinian small businessman, and an Internet billionaire. Their lives follow the ups and downs of a changing country, where manufacturing jobs vanish, businesses thrive and fail, and political fortunes crest and recede. There's a pervasive sense that "nothing was locked down," thanks to the erosion of bank regulations that for 50 years averted the panics, and meltdowns that now push the middle class to the brink. Adroit homages to John Dos Passos's "newsreel" interludes provide astute quips and headlines. Brief biographies of seminal figures that shaped the current state of affairs offer the book's fiercest prose, such as in Packer's brutal takedown of Robert Rubin, secretary of the Treasury during some key 1990s financial deregulation that amplified the severity of the Great Recession of 2008. Packer has a keen eye for the big story in the small moment, writing about our fraying social fabric with talent that matches his dismay.